This Manipuri Man Spent 17 Years Planting A 300 Acre Forest

This Manipuri Man Spent 17 Years Planting A 300 Acre Forest
The Times of India

Born in Uripok Khaidem Lekai in West Imphal, Manipur, 45-year old Moirangthem Loiya is a beacon of hope at a time when the world has plunged into the depths of climatic disasters. At a time when climatic concerns are at the crux of global geopolitical decision-making, this man has proved that each of us can play their part in caring for the environment in their own little ways. He has dedicated his life towards replanting a forest named ‘Phunshilok’, which means ‘Spring of Life’. He was spurred on in his journey of re-planting an entire forest after having been deeply hurt at seeing the once lush green Koubru peak in Senapati district, being left barren. As a child, he had often visited that place, which was then replete with trees. In 2000, after having finished college, he went back to the site and found it devastated. From then onwards, he made it his mission in life to bring back the forest covers in his native land. With such profound determination, he started looking for land to plant trees. He was guided by a local to the Maru Langol hill range in Manipur, which too, was exemplar of barrenness. The trees of that region had been cut in order to make space for rice cultivation. It was there that his efforts took shape.

After having left his job as a medical representative, Loiya shifted to Phunshilok, where he started living in a small hut built by himself. He lived there for 6 years, and planted bamboo, oak, ficus, magnolia, teak and jackfruit trees among others. “Today, the forest area covers 300 acres. 250 species of plants and 25 species of bamboo grow here and it’s home to a variety of birds, snakes and wild animals,” Moirangthem was quoted by ANI. Vegetative growth was quick in the area due to the presence of a natural spring there.

However, as per the government’s rules, any construction in the Phunshilok area is illegal, since the entire land comes under the state forest reserve region. But reportedly it was not considered so, as Loiya was extending a helping hand to further an aim filling the land with green cover. Many illegal houses constructed by the locals was also demolished by the state forest department.

The Wildlife and Habitation Protection Society was established by Loiya and his friends which looks after Phunshilok. Along with trees, shrubs and medicinal plants, Phunshilok is home to a variety of birds, snakes and wild animals like barking deer, pangolin, porcupine, mongoose, leopard cat, deer and many others. Due to the increase in green cover, the locals feel that the temperature of the region had also gone down. Since the creation of this forest cover, people from all over the world have come here for a visit.

Loiya says, “ I consider myself a painter. Other artists use canvas, brush and colour to paint, but I used a face of hills as my canvas and planted trees, flowers to paint. It has taken a lifetime to draw this – it is living art.”

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Manipur, Kereilhouvi Angami lauded Moirangthem’s efforts. He said, “We appreciate his efforts. We welcome all those who protect the environment & are engaged in reforestation. We would encourage other people to also take part in protection, revival and re-forestation of forests.”

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